With our country’s growing fascination incorporating spicy heat into their everyday meals, it is only natural that the growing sophistication of these chile connoisseurs has moved on from yesterday’s chipotle chiles and Sriracha sauce and is now searching for the next flavorful heat sensation. “Flavorful heat” does not necessarily mean crazy hot. More recently, Calabrian chiles have been appearing on trendier menus across the country paired with everything from fried chicken, pasta and pizza to sausage.
Calabrian chiles are also known as Peperoncino Chiles, golden Greek peppers, Tuscan peppers and sweet Italian peppers. These are sometimes spelled as pepperoncino and pepperoncini. The term “Calabrian Chile” can actually refer to any number of peppers cultivated in the Calabria region of Italy.
The Calabrian chile pepper is from the Capsicum annuum family. There are 85 cultivars of this species of spicy chile that are grown in Italy. Calabrian chiles are yellow when growing and mature to a red color which intensifies the chile’s sweet flavor. The different types of Calabrian Chile's are often classified based on their level of sweetness.
In Italian cuisine, Calabrian chiles are used in moderation and the flavor they bring to a dish is considered more important than the heat. These chiles are considered a signature spice in southern Italy’s rustic cooking style, especially in dishes featuring pasta, vegetables and fish. Calabrian chiles can be consumed fresh, dried, ground into a powder, sprinkled over food or preserved in oil.
The earliest recording of Calabrian chiles dates back to 1568 and is credited to Pietro Andrea Mattioli who was the personal physician of Ferdinand II of Austria, as well as Maximilian II, the Holy Roman Emperor. In addition to being a doctor, he was also a student of botany and wrote about how much hotter these chiles were than other varieties of chile peppers imported from Asia.
The first cookbook reference to Calabrian was in 1694, by the Neapolitan cook Antonio Latini with his recipe for Salsa alla Spagnola. It was made with chopped Calabrian chiles, onions, tomatoes, peppermint, oil and salt and was served as a relish. It is also believed that Calabrian was a popular chile among the lower classes of Italy long before it was first mentioned in cookbooks (which were more likely to be used by the upper class).
Many Italians believe that the best Calabrian comes from the Calabria region. Calabria is located on the southern tip of Italy’s “boot”. Calabria is separated from the island of Sicily by a narrow waterway. For centuries, invading cultures have shaped the agriculture and cuisine of these two regions. The Spanish conquistadors may have had the greatest influence on the area’s cuisine with the introduction of chile peppers and tomatoes from the new world.
Our Calabrian Chiles are grown in the Calabria region.
For centuries, Calabrian chiles have been popular in both in Greek and Italian kitchens but they hold a special status as a key ingredient in Calabrian cuisine with their unmistakable flavor profile. They are revered for balancing fruity, salty, smoky and spicy flavors, these complex chiles are a great compliment to many savory dishes.
Calabrian cuisine has a reputation for heat and these chiles add authentic, classic flavor to southern Italian dishes, especially pasta and tomato sauce recipes.
Excellent with chili, garlic bread, olive oil, pasta, pizza, salsa, soups and stews. We have also found artisans who use them to infuse honey.
Spicy with fruity undertones and a nice meaty texture.
Calabrian Chiles come in at 20,000 to 40,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). We consider this to be a hot chile.
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